Be 'disruptive' in coming up with new model for pasar malam

Having a pasar malam theme park can complement the range of attractions for residents and tourists ("Pasar malam theme park to save night markets?"; last Wednesday).

However, to make the theme park beneficial and sustainable, we have to make it distinctive, affordable for both vendors and visitors, and an ever-improving attraction.

Let us not replicate models of the current street markets and the pasar malam of old. They have not generally made major improvements or attracted increasing support.

We should also not follow well-known street markets in other places such as Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan ("Pasar malam theme park idea deserves support" by Mr Heng Cho Choon; last Friday).

It is hard to compete with well-entrenched models and not have our version be perceived by consumers as being more of the same.

While there is value in maintaining vendors that have evergreen appeal and in promoting vanishing trades, let us be brave enough to redesign the street market framework ("Tap nostalgia factor" by Ms Jacelyn Chia Yee Fang"; last Friday).

Let us showcase Singapore as a hub for creativity and innovation by reinventing the pasar malam to become a model and another distinctive strength and attraction for the new economy.

As a global city, we can promote the best of cottage industries - from our country and from overseas.

Make our street market a mini Silicon Valley for ordinary people to reinvent new senses and sensations. Introduce new toys, entertainment and pleasures for a bigger crowd and wider variety of participants.

And house these attractions in an environmentally friendly and crowd-pleasing structure that can negate some of our potential downsides, including our climate, humidity and even seasonal haze.

The street market can also be a place to help our students compete and collaborate with one another, fine-tune their work-readiness skills, and experiment with potential business models.

It can also help to develop our own fusion food, mixed martial arts, street performances of a new genre, technology-driven games, virtual reality, and arts and crafts.

On a bigger scale, by aiming to disrupt current local and overseas models of street markets, we can help inspire a new generation to become dream chasers, change-makers and world beaters.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'Be 'disruptive' in coming up with new model for pasar malam'. Print Edition | Subscribe